Jay Ajayi, trick plays help Boise State win thrilling Fiesta Bowl

Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press
Jay Ajayi rushed for three first-half touchdowns as Boise State built an early lead.

Boise State has a rich and thrilling Fiesta Bowl history, often being portrayed as the fresh-faced David to power teams' Goliath throughout much of the BCS era in college football. It's not hard to argue that the Broncos' previous success was a factor in being the first-ever Group of Five team selected by the College Football Playoff selection committee to play in the prestigious Fiesta Bowl.

Like they did in those previous editions, Boise State fought, clawed and used every trick play in its playbook to find a path to victory on Wednesday night and top Pac-12 South champion Arizona, 38-30.


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Tailback Jay Ajayi, who declared for the 2015 NFL Draft in a press conference last week, once again put in a strong effort against a big-name opponent, powering the Broncos' run game to the tune of 22 carries for 134 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot, 220-pounder ran well between the tackles and flaunted his speed for scouts in attendance by racing 56 yards for a score on the game's first drive to set the tone for the Mountain West champions.

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If there was any negative to the performance, it was the fact that Ajayi was limited severely in the second half and coughed up a fumble in the fourth quarter that breathed life into an Arizona comeback.

Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick closed out his college career with a bang as well, throwing for 309 yards and a touchdown while being perfect right up until he threw an interception in the middle of the second quarter. His accuracy in the first half was a big reason why the Broncos were able to race out to a big lead. Boise State was barely able to hold onto that lead, however, after a furious Arizona comeback late in the contest in which it had several chances to tie things up.

Hedrick's favorite target was easily wideout Thomas Sperbeck, who was able to find holes in Arizona's zone defense to the tune of 12 catches for 199 yards on his way to being named offensive MVP.

Wildcats signal-caller Anu Solomon wrapped up an impressive debut season for the team behind center with 335 yards passing and a pair of scores on the ground and through the air. However, his two interceptions (including a pick six) and game-ending sack in the red zone contributed to the Arizona loss. It was a disappointing result considering the team ran a remarkable 106 plays for 492 yards, but managed to only put up 30 points.


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After winning nearly every major national defensive award after the regular season, linebacker Scooby Wright III had a relatively quiet night by his standards with just 10 tackles, two of which were for a loss. He certainly turned into a force as the game went on, but one barely heard his name called for long stretches of the game and was outplayed by Boise State's Tanner Vallejo for the most part.

Perhaps that was fitting as the Broncos proved once again they are a force to be reckoned with no matter what postseason system is in place in college football.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.